Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone traveled to New York City this week as he faces a potential investigation from the cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York.
The embattled Malone was seen at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport Tuesday boarding a plane to New York City. Diocese of Buffalo spokesperson Kathy Spangler told WBFO Wednesday Malone travels frequently on church matters, including several times a year to New York City.
It’s unclear whether Malone’s visit is related to the possible review of his handling of the Buffalo Diocese’s clergy sexual abuse crisis from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, which is based in New York City.
Archdiocese spokesperson Joseph Zwilling said earlier this week that Dolan has been following the Buffalo Diocese situation very closely and consulting extensively, and that Dolan will make an announcement “in the near future.”
That news was first reported by the Catholic Herald Monday.
Zwilling did not immediately respond to WBFO’s inquiry Wednesday about Malone’s visit to New York City and whether he was possibly meeting with Dolan.
Dolan’s potential review of Malone would fall under new regulations issued just this past May by Pope Francis. The declaration from the pope, “Vos estis lux mundi,” place metropolitan archbishops like Dolan in charge of investigations into bishops in their region.
Malone was faced renewed scrutiny in recent weeks due to new lawsuits allowed by the state’s Child Victims Act, as well as the leak of recordings of private conversations between he and his former priest secretary.
The Rev. Ryszard Biernat, who served as Malone’s closest aide until being placed on leave last month, secretly recorded Malone expressing concerns about the Rev. Jeffrey Nowak allegedly harassing then-seminarian Matthew Bojanowski.
The recordings, which Biernat gave to WKBW-TV reporter Charlie Specht, span from March to Aug. 2, but Malone did not place Nowak on leave until Aug. 28.
The recordings also show Malone expressing concern about a “love triangle” between Nowak, Bojanowski and Biernat, and that the story getting out to the media could be “the end” for him as bishop.
However, Malone has repeatedly declined to resign and reiterated that stance at a news conference last week.
He’s facing renewed calls for his resignation — now including from the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Elma and the Movement to Restore Trust, a group of lay Catholics originally formed to help him regain public trust.
The Buffalo Diocese’s scandal began in February 2018 after the Rev. Norbert Orsolits admitted to The Buffalo News he abused “probably dozens” of teenage boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Western New York.
The Buffalo Diocese has since indentified more than 80 priests of being credibly accused of child sexual abuse, and placed several current priests on administrative leave.
It also paid out more than $17 million to 106 victims while rejecting another 135 claims in May ahead of the start of the Child Victims Act. The law’s one-year window for all abuse victims to file claims has seen the Buffalo Diocese face numerous additional lawsuits.